Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Trinity & Church VIII

Continued from Part VII

Falling in Two Directions at Once

If the Triune God created human beings to enjoy fellowship with himself and with one another, even to reflect the unity and love that existed between the persons of the Godhead, then we should expect to find (as Gunton hinted at above) evidence in the narrative of the fall not only of individual rebellion against God, but also of a disruption in the social fabric of human life as it existed in the paradigmatic pre-fall communal relations between Adam and Eve as husband and wife. Not surprisingly, this is exactly what we discover in Genesis chapter 3. The “community of love,” as Grenz described it, did not last very long.

A detailed exposition of the fall narrative is not possible here, but we can call attention to the fact that the fall was simultaneously a failure on the part of the first man and woman before God and in relation to one another. In disobeying God’s command, Adam failed to love his wife Eve. Eve also not only transgressed God’s explicit direction concerning the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but she did so by communicating with and submitting to the Serpent rather than her husband “who was with her” (Gen. 3:5). One cannot say, as I recently heard a preacher assert, “This chapter [Gen. 3] is not about marriage but about man’s relationship with God.” These relations cannot be so neatly segregated one from the other—distinguished surely, but not separated. Adam fails in his relationship to God precisely as he fails his wife (“because you have listened to the voice of your wife,” Gen. 3:17). At the very least we should be able to acknowledge that integral to the multivalent account of Adam and Eve’s fall was their failure to fulfill their calling to image God in their relation to one another.

We can probably go further than this and approach an understanding of how Adam should have acted toward his wife by examining the Second Adam’s faithful relation to his bride, the Church. In order to see this here in Genesis 3, we have to be sensitive to how the rest of the Bible uses this material (2 Cor. 11:1-6; Eph. 5:22-33; Phil. 2:1-11). Jesus is the true Image of God (2 Cor. 4:4; Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:49; Col. 1:15). According to the analogy of Scripture, seeing how Jesus Christ, the New or Second Adam and Faithful Husband behaved, we can surely reason that the first Adam ought to have been jealous for his own wife’s purity (with a “godly jealously,” Eph. 5:26-27; 2 Cor. 11:2). Unhappily, he thought more highly of himself than he ought and did not esteem his wife as better than himself (Phil. 2:3). He did not look out for the interests of his wife (Phil. 2:4), but sought to insure his own limited liability in the rebellious deal brokered by Satan (Gen. 3:12), standing by silently, according to Gen. 3:5, with the full knowledge that his wife was being spiritually seduced (1 Cor. 11:2-3; 1 Tim. 2:14). He did not love his wife (Eph. 5:25a), which means that he failed to treat Eve as his own body (Gen. 2:22) such that he would “feed and care for her” (Eph. 5:28-30).

In so far as the New Testament links Adam with Christ and Eve with the Church (Eph. 5:25b), we should conclude that the First Adam ought to have laid down his life for Eve and for the destiny of the entire human race. The extent of the first Adam’s love for his wife, however, came nowhere near even his own discomfort, let alone his death. The first Adam ought have loved his wife sacrificially by guarding her from Satan to the point of sacrifice in defense of her purity. Adam’s rebellion against God was enacted in his failure to love and guard his wife. Thus, one cannot separate Adam’s behavior before God from his behavior with Eve. He failed to behave in a way that imaged God’s love, and in hating Eve he becomes an anti-image of the true Image of God, Jesus Christ. After all, the “love of Jesus,” that is Jesus' love for his bride, becomes paradigmatic for all human social relations, just as Adam’s love for his bride ought to have been.

Note: Cornelius Van Til argued very convincingly that Adam was something of the first “neutral” social scientist, performing an experiment to see whether what God had said would come to pass—his wife being the experimental guinea pig (see Van Til, Survey of Christian Epistemology [Phillipsburg, PA: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1969], pp. 18-22, and Defense of the Faith [2nd ed.; Phillipsburg, PA: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1953], pp. 91, 98-101). This detached way of relating to another human being is the antithesis of love and violates the core meaning of the imago dei.

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